The Man with One Red Shoe (1985)

29 Mar


Smith’s Verdict: *1/2

Reviewed by Tanner Smith

I haven’t seen the French mistaken-identity comedy entitled “The Tall Blond Man with One Black Shoe,” so I can’t say how its American remake—entitled “The Man with One Red Shoe”—follows it. But it doesn’t matter. “The Man with One Red Shoe,” also about a case of mistaken identity, is a mess. It’s not very funny and what’s worse is that it’s boring.

It features an ordinary man walking his way through a story of CIA situations, as a violinist (played by Tom Hanks) is followed around, believed to be a spy for reasons that I can’t recollect. Apparently, they needed an innocent man to be their target and went for Hanks’ character because he walks around one day wearing mismatched shoes (yes, one of the shoes is red).

Wait—something is coming back to me. I think Dabney Coleman and Charles Durning played two CIA spies from different sides and Durning needed an innocent bystander to confuse Coleman and his team. So they pick this “man with one red shoe” and treat him as if he were spy who has information on Coleman. The running gag is that Hanks has no idea just what in the world is going on.

Things get even more confusing (and exciting) for him when a bombshell of a young female spy (Lori Singer) winds up falling for Hanks. There’s an uncomfortable scene in which they date each other and her hair is stuck in his pants zipper.

But the movie seems more focused on its spy story than its attempts to create written humor. I wouldn’t mind so much except that this isn’t a good spy movie. Good spy movies have a tendency to be exciting (even the bad ones do), but it’s still boring because very little thought went into creating a fully-detailed story. And then near the end, it has the gall to have a character say a line like, “This affair must end in a shooting match, just like all good spy stories.”

With a cast like Tom Hanks, Dabney Coleman, Lori Singer (“Footloose”), and Charles Durning, you’d expect a better movie than this. A cast can’t just carry a movie like this—the best comedies have scripts to support their performances. Tom Hanks, usually known for dramatic roles (and amazing at them too), has shown what he can do with comedy, but even he’s boring beyond belief. He plays it straight—with all that happens, this isn’t funny. Maybe Bill Murray would have pulled it off in this role. Coleman isn’t any better—all he does in this movie is scowl.

A word about Lori Singer as the seductive female spy—she isn’t the least bit convincing as a spy. It’s not because she’s so beautiful—I’m sure a spy can be as beautiful as that (I even know of a movie producer as beautiful as she, but I’m not naming names), but every line she says just sounds like it came from a script and worse, it sounds forced.

The only two amusing bits feature Jim Belushi as Hanks’ best friend. One scene has him chasing after the spies’ borrowed ambulance on his bike, because he hears the bugged recording of his wife (Carrie Fisher, so annoying here) putting moves on Hanks and…making “Tarzan” noises—don’t ask, you shouldn’t care—coming from inside the vehicle. That was kind of a funny chase scene.

Another funny bit is after Belushi tries to convince Hanks that there are dead spies on the floor in his apartment, but the ones that killed them keep hiding them from sight to the point where Belushi cries because he thinks he may be crazy and then takes a leak—a dead body is hanging from the bathroom door and his reaction is priceless: “Oh, come on!”

Those are the only funny bits in this depressing, boring picture called “The Man with One Red Shoe.” The only thing left to say in this review is that the French filmmakers (who made the film this was based on) should sue.

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